adversity: where God’s grace heals, saves and transforms our thoughts

Adversity feels Iike a badge that’s got my name on it. Have you ever felt like that? Instead of having an ab-fab start, it’s been more like a sad-bad beginning to 2018, with weeks full of viral illness and hugging the duvet. Maybe you can relate?

Now that I am finally coming up for air and getting back into the swim of things, my aim is to move forward and deliberately look for holy joy in the midst of everything. To seek out the Light of Christ at the end of every dark tunnel. Not in a blithe, Pollyanna kind of way but by God’s grace and with spiritual lenses on to aid the view.

by God's grace we can deliberately look for holy joy in everything we experience #joy #grace #wordsofjoy Click To Tweet

It is said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Experience shows us that increasing health challenges or emotional roller-coasters often serve to flatten and make us weaker than before, though a degree of resilience and immunity can develop.

However, when we consider that what happens to us externally also affects us inwardly, the truth of those words begins to make some sense. Adversity affects and challenges our souls, as God institutes a holy shaping and re-configuring of our attitudes.

adversity challenges our souls as God institutes a holy shaping and re-configuring of our attitudes #adversity #wordsofjoy Click To Tweet

While God allows bad things to happen to us, He is infinitely loving and good, desiring the greatest joy and peace for our lives. Yet those Holy Spirit fruit are often wrought in us by unexpected means, teaching us to seek them in Jesus above all things, as we wrestle with live’s challenges.

“Accept adversity as My gift to you: Search for golden pockets of Peace hidden in the stony hardness of your problems. I am your devoted Friend and also your King of kings, accomplishing My divine transformation in you.” ~ ‘Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life’ by Sarah Young

Shaped by grace

Can we learn to welcome adversity as a teacher
that takes, makes and breaks our resistant hearts?
Can we trust that what feels like it’s tearing our souls
apart is actually the very start of us becoming whole?

May we be like Job and take all our anguish, questions
and doubts directly to the Lord. May we see how we are
but a small part of all that’s going on, as minor, though
cherished, players on life’s stage, and vessels who need
to be gently moulded to be useful, not displayed

We are incomplete, lacking substance, unless we
have been subject to the surge of storms, allowed
them to bend us like compliant oak trees, and have
borne lashing rain, harsh winds and sudden breeze upon
our fragile forms, stirring our sorry souls into shape

For it isn’t with a rod of iron but with the tenderest
of intents that God ensures we walk on thorny pathways,
so we become those who surrender independence
by living wholeheartedly for him, and have a vital
kind of living, growing faith that’s shaped by his grace
©joylenton

“Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The limbs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.”

‘Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings’ by L. B. E. Cowman, Jim Reimann

12 thoughts on “adversity: where God’s grace heals, saves and transforms our thoughts”

  1. Dear Joy,
    Oh what precious thoughts! I love this phrase from your poem,

    “For it isn’t with a rod of iron but with the tenderest
    of intents that God ensures we walk on thorny pathways,”

    and then to match it with the Streams in the Desert reading:

    ““Defeat may serve as well as victory
    To shake the soul and let the glory out.’

    Wow. God is so tender with us, isn’t He? Even in the shaking, that we must go through, He is bringing forth more of HIS Glory in us! Thank you for sharing with us these words born in the furnace of your own afflictions. I am so glad that you are seeing some improvement from the infections this winter! And I am so grateful for the ways that God leads us to pray for each other. Hugs and Love to you my dear friend! xoxo

    1. Dear Bettie, it’s a hard truth to swallow sometimes, isn’t it? Yet without the moulding, shaking, shaping and making we wouldn’t be able to stretch our faith so much or develop Holy Spirit fruit within. We might yearn for a gentler existence and less challenges, but we are forced to trust the hidden work we cannot see, as well as the heart of God who cares so much that He longs for us to lean on Him for everything. The knowledge that “He is bringing forth more of HIS glory in us” is truly breathtaking! It gives a sense of purpose to the pain we experience. I’m thankful to be less fragile than I was, thank you, and hope this improvement lasts! Love and hugs to you too, dear friend. Your prayers help me enormously. xoxo 💜

  2. Powerful words, Joy. So much truth. Oh how I am seeing that right now. When I look back the most painful times are the times my faith and love for the LORD has grown the most….because then my love for the WORD and prayer grew exponentially. These line are packed with truth:
    “We are incomplete, lacking substance, unless we
    have been subject to the surge of storms, allowed
    them to bend us like compliant oak trees, and have
    borne lashing rain, harsh winds and sudden breeze upon
    our fragile forms, stirring our sorry souls into shape”

    Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement and grace gifts.

    1. Dear Anna, the exact same thing happens for me too. God offers us His perspective on our lives and experiences and they look very different when viewed through a lens of grace. I wrote from a deep place within, a place of feeling defined in some way by adversity and pain, but defined even more by my faith in Christ and how God uses all we go through to shape us into greater Christ-likeness. I’m so glad you were helped and encouraged by these words, my friend. Blessings, love and hugs! xo 💜

    1. Dear Victor, I am so grateful for your prayers. They mean a lot to me and make a difference to how I feel. Thank you! God bless you too. 😊

  3. You continue to encourage me with your words and willingness to look for the good in the face of your won adversity. You truly do write “words of joy”.

    For it isn’t with a rod of iron but with the tenderest
    of intents that God ensures we walk on thorny pathways,
    so we become those who surrender independence
    by living wholeheartedly for him, and have a vital
    kind of living, growing faith that’s shaped by his grace

    Love these words from your poem. I am learning how to surrender my independence. It is a daily refining and one that I still resist some days.

    1. Mary, it’s so good to know you are encouraged by what I share here! My perspective has been hard fought for because discouragement seeks to derail me most days. It takes an act of faith and lots of holy courage to be able to shake off the attacks and look for the joy of the Lord within my somewhat limited life. Therefore your comment here is precious indeed, revealing just how much God can work in our surrendered souls! You’re right, it is “a daily refining and one that I still resist some days” because who of us would willingly choose what looks like a thorny pathway, if God didn’t walk beside us every step of the way? Praying for you, my friend. I think you demonstrate far more courage and faith than you know. Love and hugs! xo 💜

    1. Dear June, yes, that is what I seek to have, as I know you do too, my friend. And I see evidence of it in you, especially through the words you write. Thank you so much for seeing this post in such a lovely way. Blessings and love!. xo <3

  4. Dear Joy,

    I have read “Shaped by Grace” over and over. These are words that speak to my soul. So many people I know are currently facing illness and life changing events. Someone I must visit soon – a dear lady who has been dealt some unusually hard knocks in life and is now living in a nursing home – comes to mind as I read this grace-filled poem. I will share this with her. Your gift for sharing God’s Grace travels far!

    You remain in my prayers as you courageously face the health challenges of your life and turn them into gifts of grace. You inspire all of us who live with chronic illness.

    Blessings, Nelda

    1. Dear Nelda, it’s an honour to have been given words that speak to your soul and a delight to think of you sharing them with someone else who might benefit from reading them! Adversity is no respecter of persons. It visits us all in some shape or form. But thankfully, God’s lavish grace is freely given to all, and it makes all the difference in the world to how we live well with life’s diverse challenges.
      Please feel free to share the poem or post with anyone God brings to mind. My desire is always to help and encourage hurting, isolated and wounded souls, and point them to the glorious Hope we have in Christ. Your beautiful encouragement has made my day and given me fresh impetus to keep on sharing my words! You remain in my prayers too, my friend. I know life and health are challenging for you as well. I am truly thankful for your kind thoughts and prayers! You inspire me to stay strong on the inside. I so appreciate your friendship and continued interest in what God gifts me to write here. Blessings and love. xo <3

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